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150+ UC Professors Call for Divestment from Israel

by UC DIVEST Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2002 at 9:55 PM

150+ UC Professors Call for Divestment from Israel; Campaign Reaching New Heights

errorBERKELEY, CA- Over 150 faculty from across the University of California campuses, from Berkeley to Los Angeles, have stepped forward in support of a UC system--wide campaign to divest from Israel; a campaign to be announced officially at a press conference on June 4th. The divestment campaign, spearheaded by the UC Berkeley chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, has gained renewed energy in light of recent events in Palestine and SJPs April 9th National Day of Action and Divestment launch, during which 79 activists, including 41 students, were arrested.

Thus far 158 UC professors have signed the University of California Faculty Petition for Divestment from Israel, which can be found at http://www.ucdivest.org. The petition calls for the UC to use its influence - political and financial - to encourage the United States government and the government of Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people and for divestment until Israel ceases its ongoing violations of international laws, such as the Fourth Geneva Convention and several UN Security Council Resolutions. [See attached document 1]

For half a century, Israel has had military dominance in the Middle East but has not had peace. Military occupation, colonization, seizures of lands, destruction of houses and orchards, assassinations, expulsions have not brought security, but terror from both sides that will escalate to disaster, says UC Berkeley Psychology Professor Emeritus Susan Ervin-Tripp. The US, whose founding ideology should favor side by side independence and self-government, instead increases the tension by providing arms and money without restriction. It is time for us to unequivocally side with peace and Palestinian independence in every possible way.

The divestment campaign was officially launched nationwide at over 40 university campuses on April 9, 2002, with student demonstrations commemorating the 1948 Deir Yassin Massacre. Many UC professors were alerted to the campaign by the rally and symbolic occupation of Wheeler Hall, led by Students for Justice in Palestine (Berkeley). After 79 demonstrators were arrested for the peaceful sit-in on April 9, the UC-Berkeley administration suspended SJP as a student group. While the UC administration has since lifted the suspension due to overwhelming public support for SJP, it continues to threaten 41 UC Berkeley students who participated in the sit-in with harsh student conduct charges and severe academic sanctions, including a year of academic suspension. Several dozen UC Berkeley faculty have rallied in support of these students rights to free speech and peaceful protest, circulating another petition which urges Chancellor Berdhal and the UC administration to drop the student conduct charges against the student protestors.

The UC faculty divestment petition follows a precedent set by the anti-apartheid campaign of the 1980s, when students, professors, and university employees called for an end to university investments in apartheid South Africa. Recognizing that the divestment campaigns of the 1980s played a significant role in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, SJP-Berkeley began a divestment petition a year and a half ago, that has over 6,000 signatures. The new UC Faculty-led divestment initiative signals a new level of support for the growing divestment campaign. Faculty petitions for divestment from Israel have also been started at other major universities, such as Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Tufts, where there have received widespread support.

"Our President continues to issue toothless and ambiguous statements, while the Congress remains largely an 'occupied territory, says Molecular and Cell Biology Professor Emeritus Joe Neilands, of UC Berkeley. This petition is a new initiative for peace in the Middle East and since it goes directly to the people it affords a by-pass around compromised and corrupted individuals and institutions.

Such support from faculty and community is monumental, says SJP organizer Hoang Gia Phan. UC divestment from the apartheid state of Israel was the primary demand of our peaceful protest on April 9. The struggle against the universitys complicity in Israels present-day apartheid, its illegal occupation, and its ongoing violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people, is nothing without the facultys support. Such support demonstrates that people of conscience throughout the academic community, and throughout the U.S, are saying together: "Not in my name!



University of California Faculty Petition for Divestment from Israel

We, the undersigned are appalled by the human rights abuses against Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government, the continual military occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory by Israeli armed forces and settlers, and the forcible eviction from and demolition of Palestinian homes, towns and cities. We find the recent attacks on Israeli civilians unacceptable and abhorrent. But these should not and do not negate the human rights of the Palestinian people.

As members of the University of California community, we believe that our university ought to use its influence - political and financial - to encourage the United States government and the government of Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people. We therefore call on the US government to make military aid and arms sales to Israel conditional on immediate initiation and rapid progress in implementing the conditions listed below. We also call on the University of California to divest from Israel, and from US companies that sell arms to Israel, until these conditions are met:

1. Israel is in compliance with United Nations Resolution 242 which notes the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, and which calls for withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from occupied territories.

2. Israel is in compliance with the United Nations Committee Against Torture 2001 Report which recommends that Israel's use of legal torture be ended.

3. In compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention ("The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies"; Article 49, paragraph 6), Israel ceases building new settlements, and vacates existing settlements, in the Occupied Territories.

4. Israel acknowledges in principle the applicability of United Nations Resolution 194 with respect to the rights of refugees, and accepts that refugees should either be allowed to return to their former lands or else be compensated for their losses, as agreed by the Palestinians and Israelis in bilateral negotiations.
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